Guidance on health and safety obligations

The government has issued guidance for landlords and tenants and their health and safety obligations during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance has three sections, the first and second of which we have addressed in previous posts. The third section addresses the health and safety obligations of both landlords and tenants. The guidance has been drafted in a question and answer format so those with specific concerns or questions are advised to refer to it.

In summary, a landlord’s repairing obligations remain the same. They are encouraged to prioritise repairs and only seek access for urgent matters such as critical repairs and safety certificates. However, if access is denied due to tenants self-isolating or any other reason related to the virus then landlords should retain details of their communications with tenants to ensure that they can demonstrate that they were attempting to comply.

Tenants are advised that where a repair is urgent access should be granted for the necessary work to be carried out. Tenants can in these circumstances elect to stay away from any contractor by for example staying in another room and ensuring that they clean the area the contractor may access both prior to and after the visit.

If the property is an HMO, tenants cannot demand that their landlord remove a tenant who may have the virus from a property or release other tenants that are not showing symptoms from their tenancy. Instead tenants are advised to consider self-isolating in their rooms and avoid using common areas where possible. A common-sense approach to self-isolation in communal living will need to be taken by all those in the property.

On the whole the guidance recommends that parties use a pragmatic and common-sense approach to the landlord and tenant relationship. That means that viewings for potential new tenants should be avoided and moving to a new house generally put on hold where possible.

This guidance may change if the government takes tougher action to prevent the spread of the virus in the coming weeks. It is therefore important to ensure that when following the guidance, you doing so with the latest information to hand. The current guidance can be found here and further updates here.

 

Disclaimer

The contents of this blog post is not legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If legal advice is needed readers should contact a solicitor. No responsibility for any information contained within this post is accepted and PainSmith solicitors accepts no liability in respect of the contents or for action taken based on this post.

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